New York - Several weeks ago, VINnews.com reported that Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands did the impossible: create the world’s first laboratory grown hamburger. While news of this $325,000 hamburger was welcomed by many, our concern is how such a creation would be viewed through the lens of halacha.
This hamburger was created by extracting stem cells (the body’s master cells; templates from which specialized tissue develop) from a cow’s muscle tissue. These stem cells were cultured and multiplied with nutrients and growth promoting chemicals, and later coalesced, forming tiny strips of muscle fiber. Approximately 20,000 of these strips were needed to create just one hamburger.
It is important to note that currently, with the price tag of test tube beef being in the six figures, its production unrealistic in the foreseeable future, and the exact scientific process kept under wraps, this halachic discussion is primarily academic, firmly entrenched in the realm of theory. If and when lab grown burgers become affordable and mainstream, its status would need to be appraised by the expert Rabbanim of the time, based on the actual metzius of how these burgers are made.
Several Rabbis addressed the issue of whether or not such a burger should be considered kosher and even possibly pareve, yet, based on different precedents cited, their theorized conclusions were quite diverse. Would this man made and modified meat be considered kosher or treif? Pareve or fleishig? This article sets out to address the different potential halachic possibilities.